In an apparent softening of stand, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday said it is necessary for the party to stay in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance in the larger interest of Maharashtra, but without compromising on "respect".
He said there was no hurry to form the next government and rejected speculation that the Shiv Sena may split if there was a delay in formation of the new Council of Ministers.
Talking to reporters, Raut said it is necessary for the Sena to remain in the saffron alliance in the interest of the state, but added that "respect" is also important.
"Individuals are not important but state's interest is important. Decisions need to be taken in a calm manner and keeping in mind the state's interest," the Rajya Sabha MP said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party has been aggressively pushing for rotational chief ministership and 50:50 power-sharing formula, demands rejected by the BJP.
Raut said his party only wants implementation of what was decided between the two allies before the October 21 assembly polls.
To a question on whether the Shiv Sena was adamant on implementing the 50:50 formula (equal share in power), Raut said, "You (the media) are saying this. We only want things to be done according to what has been decided earlier."
He said there was no question of any newly-elected Sena MLA leaving the party due to delay in government formation.
"No newly-elected MLA from any party will split. There was no question of this happening with Shiv Sena MLAs," Raut asserted.
About re-election of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as leader of the BJP legislature party, Raut said, "Those who have support of 145 MLAs (in a house of 288) will be the chief minister and it is duty to welcome him."
Asked about reports that the BJP has offered deputy chief minister's post and 13 portfolios to the Sena, Raut evaded a direct reply and said "We are not sitting with account books."
Raut, the executive editor of Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', has been vociferously articulating the party's demands for equal share in power and the chief minister's post on a rotational basis.
On Tuesday, Raut had even talked of his party looking at "alternatives" if its key demands were not accepted by the BJP.
"We believe in the alliance (with BJP) as we contested the polls jointly. But the BJP should not compel us to commit the sin of looking for an alternative for government formation," Raut had said.
The BJP has been insisting that Fadnavis will remain the chief minister for the next five years.
The BJP won 105 assembly seats, while the Sena bagged 56 in the 288-member house.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Wednesday ruled out any possibility of aligning with the Shiv Sena in forming the next government in Maharashtra.
Interestingly, former chief minister and senior leader Prithviraj Chavan had said that the Congress will "consider" any "concrete" proposal on government formation from the Sena.
Talking to reporters, AICC general secretary incharge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said there was no question of aligning with the Sena in government formation.
"The mandate for the Congress is to function as an opposition party," he said.
The Congress won 44 seats in the 288-member House in the October 21 polls, results for which were announced on October 24.
Kharge attended a meeting of senior Maharashtra leaders to discuss the results of the assembly elections. The leaders also discussed losses caused to farmers due to unseasonal rains.
Maharashtra unit Congress president Balasaheb Thorat blamed media for speculating on the party supporting the Sena.
"There is no talk about any such possibility at the party level," he said.
Former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the Congress and Sena are ideologically different parties.
Echoing Shinde, former CM Ashok Chavan termed the ongoing tussle between the BJP and the Sena for sharing of power as a "stunt".
The Congress also announced to launch statewide agitations between November 5 to 15 on "rising unemployment and the economic slowdown."
"We will soon meet the governor regarding the assistance to be provided for farmers," said party leader Manikrao Thakre.